Dry eye disease (DED) occurs when your eyes fail to produce good quality or sufficient tears to lubricate the surface of your eyes. Several causes of dry eye disease include environmental factors, such as excessive exposure to wind that reduces the tear volume in your eyes because your tears evaporate at a faster rate or when you are in an air-conditioned room with low humidity.
The symptoms of dry eye disease generally surface when your tear production decreases or when tears evaporate too quickly, causing tear film instability. This instability of the tear film may cause eye discomfort, and inflammation and irritation on the front surface of your eye (also called the cornea), which may cause you to feel a burning sensation on your eyes.
If you suffer from dry eye disease, the following sections will list down several options to help ease the symptoms of dry eye or even prevent it.
1. Staying hydrated
As the human body is made up of 60% water , your organs have to remain constantly hydrated in order for you to remain healthy. Therefore, try to consume 8 to 10 glasses of water each day in order to avoid getting dehydrated. Boost your liquid consumption by consuming water-rich foods such as watermelon and cucumbers if you do not wish to stick to plain water. A good test to check if you are well-hydrated is to check the colour of your urine. If your urine is colourless or light yellow, you are most likely well-hydrated.
2. Placing your digital screen below eye level
When viewing digital screens placed above your eye level, the surface of your eyes are exposed to the surrounding environment more than usual. This situation causes the tears on the surface of your eyes to be exposed to more air and wind in your surroundings and hence evaporate at a faster rate, thus leading to a decrease in your tear volume. The inadequate amount of tears being produced to lubricate your eyes may eventually lead to dry eye disease. Bearing this in mind, place your digital screens slightly below eye level (15-20 degrees lower) so that when you look at the screen, your eyes do not need to open as wide as when you look at your screen placed above eye level.
3. Blinking More
When you engage in certain activities that demand visual concentration, such as staring at your mobile device or computer screen, blink your eyes more frequently in order to ensure that your eyes remain moisturised as they should and that tears are evenly distributed across the surface of your eyes. Besides blinking your eyes regularly, the American Optometric Association recommends the 20-20-20 rule, which involves taking an eye break every 20 minutes for 20 seconds by looking at things placed at least 20 feet away (about 6 metres).
4. Using eye drops or artificial tears
Suffering from a chronic dry eye condition? Use eyedrops or over-the-counter artificial tears regularly in order to keep your eyes well moisturised and comfortable. Such over-the-counter products are not cures for your dry eyes, but are ways to mitigate them to help you feel more comfortable. These products contain moisture-retaining ingredients as well as lubricants like carboxymethylcellulose that may mitigate the symptoms of dry eye disease . However, the regular use of such over-the-counter products, especially those containing preservatives, may also lead to allergic reactions or discomfort in the long haul. It is advised to consult your eye care professional before using these over-the-counter products to ease dry eyes.
5. Wearing protective eyewear
To prevent your tears from evaporating at a faster rate, wear protective eye gear to reduce your eye’s exposure to dry air and wind. For example, consider installing safety shields to the sides and tops of eyeglasses to protect your tears from evaporating too fast and ease dry eyes.
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